Knauer, Numainville capture Giro wins at GranFondo 

Routley close second in men's race

click to enlarge PHOTO BY DAN FALLOON - Florenz Knauer (left) and Will Routley battled along Blackcomb Way in the final metres of the Giro race at the RBC GranFondo Whistler.
  • Photo by Dan Falloon
  • Florenz Knauer (left) and Will Routley battled along Blackcomb Way in the final metres of the Giro race at the RBC GranFondo Whistler.

A second win for Will Routley in the Giro event at the RBC GranFondo Whistler wasn't meant to be on Saturday.

Routley, who grew up in Whistler but now lives in Abbotsford, fell just short in a late sprint against winner Florenz Knauer of Germany.

The time difference was minimal, as both crossed the line around the three hours, 15 minute and 58 seconds (3:15:58) mark. However, Knauer took home $15,000 for the win while Routley was awarded $5,000 for second. Courtenay's Nigel Ellsay was five seconds back of the crush to take third.

On the women's side, national rider Joelle Numainville of Montreal was in lock step with Port Moody's Leah Guloien for the race's later stages, but took off late, ultimately finishing in 3:50:03 to best Guloien by five seconds. Sara Bergen of Vancouver rounded out the podium.

Being millimetres away from victory on the 120-kilometre course was a tough pill for Routley to swallow, especially with so many supporters cheering him on along the Blackcomb Way finish line.

"It was disappointing because I didn't win. I didn't quite make it," the 2013 champion said. "I'll probably feel a little better about it later, but for now, you want to win. If you didn't want to win, I don't know if you'd still be doing it."

Knauer praised the competition, saying he knew Routley and Ellsay would be along with him for every pedal pump. He looked to them to try to figure out any advantage he could.

"I looked at what they do and tried to be in the front all the time," he said. "(With) 15 (kilometres) to go, I thought 'If it works out, I have a good chance to win.' When we came in and saw the 500 metres (sign), I knew that I would be (the champion)."

Numainville, well renowned for her sprinting ability, said she forced Guloien into the gauntlet earlier on, picking up her pace with two turns to go and forcing the British Columbian to come after her. Ultimately, Numainville created a fairly significant amount of separation and still looked fresh late while Guloien laboured a little bit more to cross the line.

The pair had finally earned some distance between themselves and the pack with about 20 kilometres remaining. Numainville explained she actually felt like a bit of a procrastinator in how late she wrestled the lead away.

"I like to race aggressive. The way Leah and I rode away worked really well," she said, noting the race was a warm-up for the UCI Road World Championships in Richmond, Va. later this month. "You never know. It's always a risk to wait that late, but it worked out."

Though many of the other riders acknowledged feeling sluggish early, Guloien said she actually felt quite good from the get-go.

"I was actually feeling quite strong today. I didn't think I was going to have the best legs coming off of the Leadville 100 mountain bike race," she said. "Once I started riding, there's just something about this course. I really like the terrain."

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